Effect of treatment with interferon-γ alone in visceral leishmaniasis
Interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) enhances the therapeutic response to pentavalent antimony in patients with visceral leishmaniasis. To determine the effect of cytokine immunotherapy alone, 9 patients with kala-azar were treated with IFN-gamma before receiving antimony. After 20 days of IFN-gamma therapy, 4 patients showed no parasitologic response; in the remaining 5 patients, however, splenic aspirate parasite scores declined from 4.2 +/- 0.2 to 1.2 +/- 0.5 (mean +/- SE). These results indicate that treatment with IFN-gamma alone can induce visceral antileishmanial activity. However, the limited efficacy in this uncontrolled pilot trial suggests that the therapeutic role of IFN-gamma in kala-azar is that of an adjunct to conventional antimony treatment.